Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Judicial Yuan proposes legal reforms

PREVENTIVE DETENTION:Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang said that defendants may face being detained even prior to a verdict to prevent them fleeing from the law

By Chien Li-chung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang speaks at a conference on judicial reform at the Judicial Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The Judicial Yuan yesterday proposed several measures aimed at reforming the justice system.

Among them were proposals to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法) to prevent defendants from fleeing the country before being sentenced and other changes that would facilitate court proceedings, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang (呂太郎) told a news conference in Taipei.

The Judicial Yuan is mulling rules to have a defendant in court for their verdict and more powers to detain them, Lu said, adding that district prosecutors’ offices would be able to detain a defendant who has been sentenced to death or a prison term of more than two years.

Prosecutors would be able to detain people before a verdict is issued, especially if there is good reason to believe they might try to flee, he said.

The move comes after years of criticism that the law is ineffective, with critics pointing to people during former president Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) term whom fled the nation before serving their sentence, such as former legislator Lo Fu-chu (羅福助); former Miaoli County commissioner Ho Chih-hui (何智輝); Wan Chung (萬眾), who is wanted for extortion and racketeering; former Kaohsiung prosecutor Ching Tien-po (井天博); and former Chinese National Federation of Industries chairman Preston Chen (陳武雄).

Another proposal was to do away with typed transcripts in “easier” cases — such as when defendants plead guilty — with video or audio recordings being sufficient, Lu said.

The recordings would only need to be notarized if parties to the case sought to clarify points of court procedure, he said, adding that courts could outsource typing of court registers to private contractors that are familiar with the law using the recordings.

That would ease workloads for the registry and judges, and judges would be less prone to staring at the screen displaying the transcript and could focus on the people in court, Lu said.

The Judicial Yuan is also contemplating out-of-court settlements on the appellate circuit. Out-of-court settlements are only allowed in trial courts, due to a shortage of judges — 2,022 — compared with the number of cases — 3.2 million per year — Lu said.

The Judicial Yuan is also seeking to allow related cases to be combined, as there can be conflicting rulings in cases that are related but conducted separately, with first and second trials presided over by different judges.

The proposals were raised yesterday, with the Presidential Office’s preparatory committee for judicial reform to hold group discussions once every two weeks starting tomorrow.

The discussions will culminate with a national affairs conference on judicial reform, expected to take place in June.

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